The new One World Trade Centre reached its final height (1 776 feet tall) – a nod to the country's founding year – with the lowering of a silvery spire from a crane on Friday. The sleek building officially took its place as another signature of the city's skyline and, with some argument, the nation's tallest tower.
"It's a pretty awesome feeling," Juan Estevez, a project manager for Tishman Construction, said from a temporary platform on the roof where workers watched with shouts of joy.
Tourist Carol Johnston gazed up at the structure from a nearby building.
"It's sort of a renewal … like 'you can't keep us down'," Johnston said.
For New Yorkers who have followed the World Trade Centre rebuilding, after the September 11 2001 attacks destroyed the twin towers, the spire's completion was an impressive milestone.
The skyscraper, expected to open next year, is the focal point among the buildings designed to replace the twin towers. When master plans were unveiled in December 2002, architect Daniel Libeskind envisioned the tower "restoring the spiritual peak of the city, creating an icon that speaks to our vitality in the face of danger and our optimism in the aftermath of tragedy".
Tallest skyscraper in the US
It is the tallest skyscraper in the US and third tallest in the world, although building experts dispute whether the pinnacle is an antenna, a crucial distinction in measuring the building's height.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a US-based organization considered an authority on such records, says an antenna is something simply added to the top of a tower that can be removed. By contrast, a spire is something that is part of the building's architectural design.
If it didn't have the spire, One World Trade Centre would be shorter than the Willis Tower in Chicago, which stands at 1 451 feet (440 metres) and has the title of tallest building in the US, not including its antennas. The world's tallest building, topping 2 700 feet (823 meters), is in Dubai.
"It will be a beacon of hope, just like the Statue of Liberty," said Scott Rechler, the vice-chairperson of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the lower Manhattan trade centre site.
Tenants are to include the magazine publisher Condé Nast, the government's general services administration and Vantone Holdings China Centre, which will provide business space for international companies.
Lee Ielpi, whose firefighter son died after responding to the September 11 attacks, watched workers secure the spire from his office at the nearby 9/11 Tribute Centre, which he co-founded.
"I'm looking forward to the day when the cranes come down and they light the spire at night," he said. – Sapa-AP